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3 bunches of lettuce and the one in the middle has devil horns and tail

Trigger Foods and Alternatives

As someone who has suffered with IBS since childhood, the kinds of foods I can and can’t eat have changed, and even worsened, over the years. Foods I used to tolerate are now completely intolerable, and new foods are now a problem. Everyone’s gut is so different, so trigger foods tend to vary, although I am certain there are several foods that are common problems.

Trigger foods

Let’s start with the completely intolerable foods. One food I absolutely can not eat is broccoli. I love it, but the horrors! It makes me miserable and I finally gave it up entirely two years ago. It causes terrible bloating and gas, and sends my GERD into a frenzy. Another big “no-no” food for me is baked beans. Once again, I love baked beans, but they do not love me back. It’s not worth suffering through the after effects!

I can’t exactly remember or pinpoint the foods that hurt my stomach as a child, as I didn’t really have much of a choice in what I ate. Mom cooked it, I ate it! But as I got older, I started to recognize the consequences of eating certain foods. My IBS symptoms worsened during my pregnancy and afterwards. My gut definitely is not the same! I’m still unsure as to why that is, but here is a list of foods that exacerbate my IBS (although I will shamefully still eat them from time to time- whoops!)

  • Breakfast foods, such as bacon, and eggs. I’ve even tried eating just the egg whites without different results
  • Red meat – this is the food that made me the sickest during pregnancy, and has continued now years later.
  • Fried foods
  • Eating too many fruits
  • Shredded lettuce (I know this sounds crazy, but it kills my stomach!)
  • Cabbage
  • Sausage, but any kind of pork in general
  • Onions
  • Dairy

Alternatives to trigger foods

I do have a few alternatives that I have found helpful. Just to name a few, I do spinach instead of shredded lettuce, and turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. I can’t say I have cut out all fried foods, but I do try and eat things grilled instead as much as I can. I substituted cow’s milk with almond milk for a couple of years, until I developed a new tree-nut allergy last year. It did seem to help before that happened!

It interests me to know others’ trigger foods and different alternatives used. We’re all here to help each other out, right? I know it can be so difficult to eliminate foods such as certain fruits and vegetables, or if you’re like me, your favorite (yet make you miserable) foods! I definitely recommend seeing a registered dietitian if you are unsure or need some guidance. I never realized their importance and help they have to offer until I saw one for myself. It helped me think more outside the box with it came to my diet!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • marlene43
    1 year ago

    Thanks for the advice of a registered dietician. I will check into that.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Let us know how you make out, @marlene43! – Chris, Team Member

  • Ksquared26
    1 year ago

    I can’t eat oats, which is everyone’s favorite IBS food! I also have problems with lentils (but not other beans), yogurt, fried foods, and I can only eat ice cream right after I’ve had a big meal. I think carbonated things aren’t great for me either.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Fried foods is a big no for a lot of folks here, @ksquared26! Have you taken a look at some of our IBS-friendly recipes? If not, here’s the link: You may find recipes with ingredients that won’t work for you, but you can always substitute or omit any of those ingredients. Let us know if you try any of them! – Chris, Team Member

  • ExplodingGuts
    1 year ago

    Read briefly of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s all-beef/s’salt diet – the strategy behind his scrawny, desperate, hungry-looking gaze. His daughter’s idea as she claims it cured her crippling arthritis. He touts the diet as a weight loss strategy (he never needed) and claims it cured his multiple neuroses (still visceral, IMO) as well as gastro troubles. i have to say, I do find beef typically makes my IBS/GERD nonsense behave.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for weighing in, @explodingguts. A lot of folks here have mentioned that red meat is problematic for them. In case you haven’t read this article, one of our contributors shared her experiences with red meat here: Take care! – Chris, Team Member

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